M-Sport Ford have signed Esapekka Lappi to lead its three-car effort in the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship with Teemu Suninen and Gus Greensmith continuing with the team.
Lappi and co-driver Janne Ferm move to the Cumbrian-based squad after Citroen’s withdrawal from the championship and will enter a full season campaign alongside Suninen, with Greensmith scheduled for a nine-round 2020 season in the third Fiesta WRC.
The young Finn, who’s signing means the average age of new-look line-up is now just 25 years of age, said on his move: “I’m really looking forward to this new adventure and I’m excited to see what we can achieve. M‑Sport Ford has a real passion for rally and there were a lot of talented drivers available for this seat, so I’m very happy they put their trust in us – giving myself and Janne an opportunity to show what we can do in 2020.”
“We start testing this week, and I’m really looking forward to discovering the Fiesta. The last time I drove a Ford we had a lot of success and it would be great to see that continue this year. I can’t wait to get started and hope we can push for some strong results.”
While M-Sport Managing Director Malcolm Wilson added on the three drivers: “We’re going back to our roots in more ways than one this year – fielding a young team and welcoming two sets of Finns back to the family. We enjoyed some fantastic results with Marcus (Gronholm), Mikko (Hirvonen) and Jari-Matti (Latvala), and now I’m looking forward to seeing how the next generation of Flying Finns develop.”
“But our core philosophy has always been the promotion and progression of young talent, and in Esapekka, Teemu and Gus we have three talented youngsters who are all capable of delivering some strong results. The team may be a young one, but they have the experience and ambition to go far – and I’m keen to see what they can achieve in 2020.”
Lappi although hasn’t driven for M-Sport in the championship, does have history of driving car built by the team after he and co-driver Ferm dominated in the Finnish Rally Championship back in 2012 in a S2000 spec Fiesta.
Suninen meanwhile in 2019 regularly challenged for podium results as he partnered Elfyn Evans before his move to Toyota over the winter and the young Finn continues with the team for 2020 while Greensmith competed on several WRC events last season as he stepped in for the Welshman following a mid-season injury.
Team Principal Richard Millener commented on the news: “There’s a lot of potential in our 2020 line-up and our aim is to continue challenging for the top results. A rally win is the ultimate goal, and I think we have every chance of achieving that. Everyone is determined to deliver, and we can’t wait to get stuck in.”
“Esapekka is a proven winner and there is no doubting his speed. He finished second three times last year so I’m looking forward seeing how he gets to grips with the Fiesta. And if it’s anything like the last time he got behind the wheel of a Ford then we’re in for one hell of a season!”
He continued: “I think a lot of people will be keen to see what Teemu can do too. He and Jarmo work really well together and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw them challenging for the top results on quite a few events this year.
“It’s also great to see Gus back with nine events in the Fiesta WRC. He had a really strong debut last year and he’s only going to get stronger and more confident as the season progresses. This is very much a learning year for him, but if I know Gus he’ll want to make his mark too!”
The trio will make their first appearance of the 2020 season on Rallye Monte-Carlo, which takes place later this month.